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Private trackers

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Private Tracker Flowchart

What is a private tracker?

A private tracker is a torrent website that provides the same functionality as a public tracker, but is generally invite-only. This means you need to be a member to view the contents of the site and download its torrents, but can't just register without having been invited by an existing member (said member must be in turn authorized to give out invitations). Within a tracker, there usually is an extensive set of rules about how much one can download, what kind of content one can upload, what precautions one must take when logging into the sites, etc. Such rules and content vary from tracker to tracker, and go from rather liberal with little enforcement to ultra-paranoid and autistic. Advantages of private trackers include:

  • Speed: if you're familiar with torrents you probably know that the bigger the swarm, the faster you downoad. Private trackers encourage their members to seed torrents as long as possible, thus guaranteeing bigger swarms for every torrent. Not only that, but many members use remote seedboxes with huge upload speeds, thus increasing dramatically the speed for many torrents, often making them available almost instantly.
  • Retention: similarly, private trackers usually enforce rules that encourage long-term seeding. Many torrents for obscure content that you wouldn't normally find any peer for on ThePirateBay or Kat will be still seeded by a few peers on private trackers.
  • Selection: some content simply isn't available on any public site and will only be found on private trackers. Sometimes you can't even legally buy it at all, ironically. Some trackers even specialize in obscure or rare content, ensuring that it doesn't get lost from the Internet.
  • Quality control: a major asset of private trackers, albeit one that can vary a lot across trackers. Good private trackers have very strict rules on content format, quality and organization. Music trackers will ensure you don't get bad 92kbs transcodes, movie trackers will ensure you only get good encodes, ebook trackers will ensure you get retail quality, etc. Members and staff review and approve each torrent. Trumping rules and the removal of duplicates ensure you only get one, community-approved source for this specific content and format. This, coupled with a decent site layout, makes private trackers much more orderly than public ones.
  • Security: there are two reasons private trackers are more secure, albeit they may not apply in the future. The first one is that most of them are obscure enough that no one really knows or cares about them (security by obscurity). The second one is that copyright trolls would rather focus on huge public sites that are easy to fish for peers rather than small communities that are hard to join. From a monetary point of view, it's more worthwhile to stop 10 000 casuals from downloading 2 torrents than stop 2 l33ts from downloading 10 000 torrents.

How secure are private trackers?

This depends entirely on the precautions of the operator. Some are shady and will use your information for profit, some are not. Two precautions to avoid:

  • Never use the same password on two trackers. Operators of shady sites often use that common vulnerability among people to steal accounts to other trackers which they can use to cause further harm (such as leaking peer lists to the public or selling the accounts and its invites on invite forums).
  • Don't tie any personal information to your tracker accounts. This includes email address, identity or any kind of information that could be used to harm you should it fall in the wrong hands. The tracker staff may be legitimate, but the site itself can be busted or defaced by hackers. Don't post about yourself in the forums and for fuck's sake, don't post in these "post a pic of you" threads. Torrent trackers aren't social networks.

What are the best private trackers?

There are two kinds of trackers, content-wise: specialized and general. /ptg/ frowns upon the regular use of general trackers as they tend to be a jack of all trades, lacking in all areas while only being good for mainstream shit. They can however be a good supplemental source of content as trackers often go down or get busted for various reasons. The following is a global consensus on what is considered the best tracker in each different fields, namely: Music, Movies (both mainstream and obscure), TV, HD (yeah this gets a separate category), Games, Books, E-learning, Porn, Anime, Scene and General. If you are a /ptg/ regular and disagree with this (especially the lower-tier ones), edit what you think is wrong.

  • Blue trackers are the cabal - essentially the holy trinity of PTP/BTN/WCD + HDB: the top, most reputed trackers in the torrent community who are objectively the best in their respective categories and rule the torrent world. Don't fuck with cabal staff as they will gang up against your ass to permaban you from all cabal trackers along with any trackers willing to cooperate with the cabal (and they often do).
  • Light blue trackers are subject to the cabal; if you're banned from the cabal, you will get banned from these as well. On the other hand, a good ratio-proof on one of these will be well considered if you apply to another cabal-subjected tracker. Due to their niche or subpar content however, they don't get as much exposure as the cabal.
  • Red trackers are essentially shady - either the IPT mafia empire or other trackers run by staff known for shitty practices such as trading accounts, DDoSing other sites, encouraging pay2leech or storing passwords in plaintext. Worst enemies to the cabal, so don't expect ratio-proof on one of these sites to be taken into consideration on cabal sites. Since they may still have good content, they can be worth joining: just don't use the same password as that of a cabal site and avoid giving them money.
  • White trackers are either open or not known to cooperate much with the cabal, but they aren't known for shitty practices either.
Music Movies (mainstream) TV HD Movies (obscure) Games Books E-learning Porn Anime Scene General
Tier 1 - Essentials WCD PTP BTN HDB KG BCG Bib BitMe Emp AB DH IPT
Tier 2 - Alternatives Waffles TehConnection MTV AHD Cinematik GGn MAM BitSpyder Pornolab BakaBT SCC bB
Tier 3 - Backups Speed.cd PTN Freshon HD-T SecretCinema BitGamer WCD TheGeeks PussyTorrents AnimeTorrents PreToMe AR
  • Audiobooks: MyAnonamouse
  • Documentaries: ScienceHD
  • Piano sheets: MyAnonamouse
  • Comics: 32pag.es
  • Recipes: Deli.sh
  • E-learning: TheOccult (fringe), ThePlace and BitSeduce (seduction), TheVault (business)
  • B-movies: Cinemageddon
  • 90's stuff out of print: MySpleen
  • Weird shit: SocietyGlitch
  • 3D software: CGpeers
  • x264 media: x264.me
  • JAV: yourexotic
  • Hentai: oppaitime
  • Magic: ArtOfMisdirection, MagicTorrents
  • Korean porn: Sinderella

How to get into private trackers (and survive)

The first thing you need to ask yourself is whether your needs are satisfied by what you currently have at your disposal (DHT/public trackers (TPB and KAT), DDL, newsgroups, streaming, Soulseek, Tribler, DC++, Kad/eDonkey, sneakernet...among other things), because private trackers may not be actually worth your time, depending on what you want. Joining private trackers isn't hard, but it takes time. Do you just want that one specific file you've been searching in vain for weeks? If so, you'd be better off asking someone on /ptg/ (or /r/trackers) to snatch it for you and call it a day. Do you want to build a comprehensive library with consistent and superior quality such as good encodes, proper music tagging, retail ebooks? Then you should try to join one of the specialized trackers. Do you live in a copyright-cucked shithole and are afraid to get raped by the MPAA/RIAA and associates, but care little about music or HD? Then a general tracker should suit you. Depending on your goals, whether they are long-term and short-term and whether they are currently satisfied, the amount of time you will have to invest will vary.

  • Open-signup trackers: This is the easiest step. All trackers have to start small and build up a decent userbase before they can afford to limit entry, and thus a number of trackers are open to signup for a time. There are numerous websites that keep track of these (opentrackers.org, opentrackers.net, btracs.com, /r/OpenSignups), but I'll tell you a secret: unless you're looking for something specific, just go to rutracker (rutracker.org). Yes, it's entirely in Russian, but who cares? All registration forms look the same and you weren't going to post in the forums anyway, right? (More on that later). Rutracker is really nice because it's comprehensive, well-seeded and has high standards despite having very few ratio restrictions. In fact, 99% of the needs of most users are met there. If you are looking for porn, I recommend pornolab (pornolab.net). Yes, it's in Russian too. Here's a guide from a Russian speaker to rutracker.

From now on I will assume you are familiar with most top trackers in their respective niche; if you aren't I urge you to consult the flowchart everyone's been passing around these days. Past this point, all trackers restrict random user registration to a limited number of cases, mostly invites from existing members and a few other special cases for some trackers:

  • Pay2Pirate: Some trackers will invite you for a fee (most notably, IPTorrents). The idea is to prevent potential cheaters to abuse the system (in ways defined at the discretion of the staff) since any fuck-up would cost them their account, and thus their money. For reasons that would take too long to explain here, IPTorrents is generally despised by other reputed trackers and a proof of good ratio there won't open the way anywhere else. It is still a very large source of general content though.
  • Application: Some trackers have a special page with an application form in one way or another (most notably, AnimeBytes, ScienceHD, PixelHD, PTFiles and even Pedro's lately - find it here: privatepaste.com/download/da91bbcb5c). Their goal is to keep a moderate influx of new members they can control by assessing your willingness to join and what you have to offer. Different trackers have different requirements: some will require proof of good ratio on other trackers, some will only require that you show genuine interest and good will in your application form even if you are new to the tracker scene. Some mostly care about what you have to offer to the site (for instance, being an actual scientist with access to loads of books and articles will surely land you an invite at ScienceHD). Try to be sincere, honest, lengthy and don't forget to provide an email address so they can notify you of their response.
  • Interview: A few trackers have an interview system; it means that you are going to join an IRC channel and answer questions to their staff. It's mostly a way to control members' origin as almost all of them will ask that you join from your home connection. The most reputed tracker known to maintain an interview system is What.CD, and the interview, while not hard, may catch you unaware if you are not prepared. Be sure to read all of the material on the What interview preparation site (www.whatinterviewprep.com) as the site does log each and everyone of your connections, even if they are years apart, and they will know if you did an sometime in 2009 with a similar IP range or username. MyAnonamouse also requires you to join their IRC but it's more of a friendly chat and questions are mostly about the rules. The hardest part in an interview system is getting enough free time to wait for an interviewer, then taking the interview itself. What.CD queues are known to last for hours, and the interview can take from 1 to 2 hours. MAM is much faster but only interviews twice a week. Also note that if you are fond of le Reddit upvotes, you may apply for an interview at Baconbits, Reddit's private tracker.
  • Invite forums: Once you've established a good standing on one of the aforementioned trackers you've hopefully managed to get in, you will be able to move on to more restrictive ones. Most top trackers require new users to have a past of good standing (i.e. Power User or Elite userclass) such as one that can be shown on a tracker whose staff they trust - the tracker scene is a small world, and tracker staff often cooperate (or fight) with each other. As such, there are recruitment threads on various trackers so they can exchange good-standing users for the benefit of all. What.CD is known for having the most comprehensive range of recruitment threads and will land you a place in all but the most restricted sites (HDBits et al). BaconBits is also known for being a good gateway to reputed trackers. For this reason, they are often cited as a "first step" for new users to the tracker scene. Surprisingly, even mutracker has a couple of good recruitment threads.
  • Super Exclusive Sekrit Klub: Once you've made it to the big ones, the rest is up to you - you may try to join some of the ultra-closed trackers such as Exigo or HDBits (don't even try Art of Misdirection though) but at this point your needs should be pretty much covered unless you are looking for something really specific or just doing it for epeen.

What NOT to do

  • Beg for invites: Autists on /ptg/ have taken upon themselves to report every single email they see on this general to various tracker staff and spam crawlers (they went as far as going though the archives and reporting emails they saw in past threads). There used to be a time where /g/entoomen helped each other out and many a /ptg/ resident got their HDBits invite from some Anon on 4chan in 2010 but these times are long gone. Tracker staff are known to lurk the threads and ban anyone they catch sending an invite to an email posted here. If you accept an invite you begged, you will be found out and lose any chance of acquiring a legitimate account.
  • Trade for invites: Tracker staff really, really hate this. If you are caught trading (and you eventually will) they will go out of their way to ban you, your entire invite tree and cooperate with other staff so as to disable as many of your accounts on other trackers as they can. Don't go to tracker trading forums such as torrent-invites and the like, even having an account there may count as a red flag to some staff.
  • Buy invites: You'll lose money along with the chances of getting in legitimately. Some staff will be lenient if you ditch your seller though, probably because they want to get at the source first.

Generally speaking, you should avoid invites from random dudes on the internet if you can; the reason is, you most likely have no idea of their standing and they could very well fuck up later, resulting in an entire treeban and you getting banned through no fault of your own. It's unfair, it sucks. Stick to official invites (interview, application, recruitment threads) and no one will bother you.

  • Posting on the forums: Every post you make on the forum is an occasion of getting someone riled up, and that someone may very well be staff. You're here for downloading and uploading stuff, not chitchat. Don't use the forums.
  • Talking to staff more than necessary: Same reason as above. Don't give them any reason to ban you. If you rustle a staff member in any way, causing them to ban you, the entire staff will rally behind them even though they wouldn't have personally banned you themselves. It's the mod's word against yours, you can never win.
  • Being confrontational with staff: Simply assume they are always right, even (and especially) when you point out that they are wrong.

In short, either keep a low profile or suck staff's dick, as with all sites.

Getting acquainted with rules and maintaining your ratio

Okay, now we're going to assume you made it to a couple of private trackers - if you haven't yet, please read above part (TL;DR: interview at What.CD, baconBits, MyAnonamouse or (hah) mutracker; apply to ScienceHD or AnimeBytes; work you way up from there on either tracker's PU forums, What.CD's being the most varied; if that's too much bother for you, use rutracker/pornolab and stop reading this). This is a guide intended to help those who already made their first steps in the elitist, restricted and highly autismal private tracker world. As you can see, things are quite different here. Rules, ratio, buffer, seeding, userclasses... what the fuck's all this? Things were much simpler on ThePirateBay where you could just search, click and have your stuff right there, right?

And you know what? You're right. Most folks on /ptg/ and elsewhere will tell you stories about how they did a kind gesture and invited a friend of theirs (or even a fellow Anon) only to see them log on twice into the site before never using it again, no matter how hard they begged and how convincing they sounded. In all likelihood, these people first logged on, their excitement faded when they saw that they couldn't just start downloading everything before signing off, found the rules too complicated, lost interest in the whole thing and settled for more accessible alternatives (which are, again, not necessarily bad, depending on what one wants). Since you're reading this, I'm going to assume you're not one of these people and that you actually want to use the trackers you're on. Are they worth it? Well, that's for you to find out. Before you decide, here's a few tips that'll show you it's not that hard, if you can read that is.

First things first

Read the rules. Seriously, do it. Tracker staff are autistic, you get one account per lifetime and you don't want to start playing cat-and-mouse games with the admins that early. Most tracker rules are similar, and go on the lines of "Suck our dicks at all occasions; don't leak invites or torrent files to public places; don't trade or sell invites; don't be inactive" followed by specifics on content rules (what you may upload) and ratio rules (more on that later). Read all the details as there may be some specifics on each tracker. Some have exclusive content that you can't upload elsewhere; some prohibit the use of Tor or VPNs, or even expressively forbid that you log on from anywhere else than your home connection; and so on. Read it all so you don't get caught unawares on some autistic peculiarity.

Ratio issues and tracker economy

Now let's assume you're familiar with the rules, how about you download some shit? The only problem is that ratio thingy: surprise, when you're done downloading something, no one ever downloads it back from you, ever. That's because, unless you joined a low-tier tracker, the seeder-to-leecher ratio is extremely high, with everyone permaseeding everything while only leeching occasionally. This brings us to our main point: tracker economy. Trackers can be roughly sorted into three categories: those with no economy, those with a soft economy, and those with a hard economy.

No economy

Trackers with no economy are essentially ratioless. Torrent retention is achieved by imposing seeding requirements or individual ratio requirements ("you must seed with a 1:1 ratio OR for 72 hours"), and people get an incentive for seeding by acquiring bonus points that can be used for transcending userclasses. Example of ratioless trackers include BTN or /mu/tracker. You won't have any problem there as long as you seed.

Soft economy

Tracker with a soft economy use a ratio-based system complemented by bonus points. These points are typically earned by doing specific actions, the most common of which seeding for an X amount of GBs, regardless of whether someone is actually downloading it from you. Some trackers will reward you for uploading torrents, idling on IRC or doing any kind of activity that contributes to the tracker and the site as a whole. Most trackers have a soft economy, from AHD to PTP, from MAM to bB or AB. Another kind of soft economy is a ratio-based system with a large amount of freeleech torrents, i.e. torrents whose download stats aren't counted but still earn you upload credits. Such trackers include SHD, SCC or bB, AB and MAM (again). You won't have many problems if you don't download everything like a retard: just grab some freeleech or small torrents, wait for your amount of bonus points to passively increase, get upload credit when you can, use that upload credit to download more, etc. The more you snatch, the more you seed, the more points you earn, and eventually you'll have enough buffer to freely download what you want.

Hard economy

Trackers with a hard economy are ratio-based but provide little to no means of complementing one's upload amount, like bonus points or freeleech sections. As a result, there's only a limited amount of upload credit (which acts as tracker currency, there are whole academic papers about it if you're into that kind of stuff) in the whole tracker, and whatever credits you earn, someone else has to spend. Getting upload credit is quite hard and you might have to work on your ratio before being able to download whatever you want without hindrance. On the other hand, since nearly everyone is as tight on ratio as you are, everyone will be permaseeding everything and torrents will have an excellent retention.

Trackers such as What.CD or Bibliotik have an hard economy, and most struggles you hear about getting one's ratio up will typically be on one of those trackers. There are four main methods to get upload credit, on top of permaseeding everything (which you should do in any tracker anyway - you're doing that, right?): getting a seedbox, filling requests, uploading your own content and jumping on popular torrent swarms early.

  • Getting a seedbox: it is basically pay2win but you might end up doing that if you don't want to bother too much and have money to spend.
  • Abusing the fuck out of freeleech:
  • Filling requests: can be tricky as people will obviously request stuff they can't find elsewhere, so unless they're particularly inept at googling and people didn't catch on you won't have any luck; if you consider the request to be worth it and you like the content requested you could also buy it, a less cheesy pay2win since you still end up with the physical medium as opposed to imaginary points on a website that might get busted at any moment, on top of the warm fuzzy feeling that you made someone you don't know on the other side of the globe happy; looking for requested material on other related trackers also works, though the process can be tedious.
  • Uploading your own content: a reliable way to get upload credit AND satisfy the usual userclass promotion requirements; however, unless you're operating from a seedbox or a very fast connection, you'll have a hard time achieving a ratio much above 1:1. That's because seedboxes usually snatch your stuff (especially if it's recent or matches certain tags, like "classical" on What.CD) before taking priority to distribute it across the swarm, since the Bittorrent protocol favors peers with a faster upload speed; you'll still have at least upload equal to your torrent size though, so you could survive on uploading stuff alone (also, if you keep uploading consistently good stuff, users will eventually "subscribe" to you and snatch everything you upload). On sites like Bibliotik uploading enough content makes the entire site freeleech. You might also be able to get extra bonus points for uploading content.
  • /pyramid/: And finally, jumping onto popular swarms (aka /pyramid/ on /ptg/) is a risky though exciting activity that rewards those who catch on early and get to upload to everyone, while those who joined in on a later date only get a fraction of the original seeders' credit, thus creating a pyramid scheme. Popular torrents include those about to become freeleech or the newest content from popular artists. /ptg/ regulars will often post about /pyramid/ tips, which means you could download from that torrent in the hope that it'll grow and eventually get you a ratio above 1. If you have a seedbox or any kind of dedicated server, automatic tools such as autodl-irrsi will snatch stuff based on relevant information (such as tags, year etc.), however you might encounter the risk of downloading too much stuff you can't afford, even if some of it pays off. Use at your own discretion.

Which kind of economy is the best?

Asking this question is a good way to start a shitstorm on /ptg/ and torrent forums alike, especially when you consider the different kinds of soft economy: BCG has essentially no global economy but a hard hit-and-run system that makes it difficult to seed back single torrents with ease, 32p has an inkdrop system that treats essentially replaces ratio with points, AB has a very, very elaborate formula for calculating the amount of points you get from seeding, and so on. There is probably no objective answer to that question, as there are top-tier trackers with all kinds of economy (e.g. BTN is ratioless, PTP is soft and WCD is hard) and of course countless shit tier trackers in either as well; different systems for different content. That doesn't preclude you from having a subjective opinion and posting it on /ptg/, of course.

General tips

It's recommended to use different emails, usernames, and passwords on each site you join. Refrain from posting on forums, a good percentage of tracker staff are very unqualified and go out of their way to find ban-worthy offenses.

Notable private trackers

Large HD tracker, home to many high-profile encoders.
Large magic tracker, limited to professional magicians only.
Massive music tracker with over 2 million torrents.
Large ratioless television tracker.
Large movie tracker. Content ranging from black and white obscura to the latest blockbuster.
Large book tracker. Overdrive access recommended for users.
Large anime tracker with over 100,000 torrents. Many torrents are freeleech.
Large general purpose tracker.
Medium-sized music tracker. Regarded as what.cd alternative.
Medium-sized movie tracker. Regarded as PTP alternative.
Medium-sized television tracker.
Small up-and-coming ratioless television and movie tracker.
What.CD, Waffles.FM, and other's predecessor.

Paths to getting into Private Trackers (or where should I start?)

Generally it is accepted that many major/reputable trackers recruit from What.cd.

See also